Thomas trails early in CIMB title defence
Justin Thomas collected the Jack Nicklaus Award as the PGA Tour player of the year before heading to Malaysia in a bid to win his third successive CIMB Classic. Little wonder then the two-time defending champion was off his game in the first round Thursday, managing a 2-under 70 to sit six strokes behind leader Cameron Smith of Australia. Smith opened with a blemish-free 8-under 64. Thomas is aiming to be the first player to win the same tournament three years in a row since Steve Stricker at the John Deere Classic from 2009-11. Canadian Nick Taylor is also 2 under, followed by fellow Abbotsford, B.C., native Adam Hadwin at 1 under. Toronto’s Richard T. Lee is 1 over, while Graham DeLaet of Weyburn, Sask., is 5 over.